Afghanistan and the Cost of Having a ‘Normal’ President

August 15, 2021 Updated: August 16, 2021

Consider this a letter of congratulations. I address it to Democrats everywhere who told us that Joe Biden would return the United States to a state of normality.

I address it also to those, many putative Republicans as well as Democrats, who fought tooth-and-nail against Donald Trump because—well, because he was not a “normal” politician.

Donald Trump issued mean tweets. He made fun of the media, often singling out reporters by name.

He was bombastic (more bombastic than President Joe Biden?).

He lied (again, did he lie more often than Biden?).

No thoughtful person believed there was anything to the fabricated gossip about Russian collusion in determining the 2016 election—which does not, of course, mean that that tissue of grotesque lies was not believed and assiduously circulated by many Big Names in the media.

Nor did it insulate Trump from being compared to virtually every tyrant in history (“literally Hitler,” remember?).

There is now a lot of hand-wringing about the performance of Joe Biden. I’ll give you a little then vs. now in a moment.

First, I want to raise the question of whether the people who helped put Joe Biden in office should have their hand-wringing licenses suspended.

There are several putatively conservative outlets—those that deserve Bill Kristol’s “elevated conservative” seal of approval—who worked overtime to disparage Trump.

They bought wholesale into the Jan.-6-riot-is-an-insurrection-threatening-“our-democracy” meme.

That is all looking as rancid as the Russian collusion delusion, but I haven’t heard any apologies.

Instead, we are treated to high-minded (by which I do not mean “intelligent”) analysis of Biden’s faults, blunders, mistakes.

I do wonder whether such people, who helped put Biden in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue deserve to be heard on the question of his liabilities.

I offer that for future consideration: should those who helped put Biden in office now deserve a hearing when they are complaining about his performance?

I confess that I do not listen to them.

Trump’s Achievements

Back when Donald Trump was President, I would periodically list what I considered his achievements and the campaign promises that he kept.

It’s rather a long list, and I won’t reprise every item. But here are a few.

  • He promised to appoint judges and justices of the stamp of Antonin Scalia, that is, jurists who sought to uphold the law in light of the Constitution, not make policy by using the Constitution as Ouija board from which to make policy.
  • He promised to exploit American’s energy resources and did so. By the time he left office America was energy independent. (Joe Biden is even now begging OPEC to increase production.)
  • Trump promised to cut taxes. He did so, to the benefit of more than 80 percent of individuals and the entire corporate economy.
  • He spent a lot of money—too much in my view—but inflation remained tame on his watch.
  • His economic policies generally brought higher wages, especially at the lower end of the wage scale, and led to the lowest unemployment in decades. They led to the lowest minority unemployment in history.
  • The stock market went from some 18,000 when he was elected to more than 30,000 when he was pushed out.
  • His immigration policies essentially stopped the flow of illegal immigrants across our southern border.
  • He brought peace to the Middle East with the Abraham accords.
  • He reimposed sanctions on Iran, the world’s largest exporter of terror, and made sure that they would be stymied in their quest for nuclear weapons.
  • He saw China’s bellicose military and economic posture for what it was, and he spoke and acted strongly against it.
  • He fulfilled a decades-old U.S. promise to move our Israeli embassy to Jerusalem. He was warned this would inflame “the Arab street.” We heard—nothing.
  • He instituted Operation Warp Speed to develop an effective vaccine against Covid within a year. This was said to be impossible. He oversaw the development of not one but three effective vaccines on schedule.
  • He promised to restore the fighting prowess of the U.S. military. He did so, investing more than a trillion dollars to upgrade its materiel and infrastructure.

Today’s News

That was then.

And today?

The headlines tell the story.

Consumer Sentiment at the Lowest Level in a Decade.”

Inflation keeps growing, but Dems won’t stop spending.”

“On Thursday,” The New York Post reported, “the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported yet another jump, a full 1 percent, in the producer price index … for the month of July. Wholesale prices are now up 7.8 percent over the past year, the fastest annual surge since such record keeping began in 2010.”

Food, gas, cars, housing, clothes, service: all are up and surging higher.

Worried about the uptick in Covid cases? How about this headline: “Texas border town makes deal with Biden administration to ship illegals to big cities.”

Yes, you read that right, and it gets worse. It’s not just that the Biden administration is shipping illegal migrant to cities across the country. It is doing so without testing them for Covid.

You, Dear Citizen, must constantly be tested, masked, vaccinated, double masked.

But scramble over a fence in Laredo and you’re home free.

According to the agreement with the Biden Department of Homeland Security for transporting illegal immigrants from the Rio Grande Valley, these individuals will henceforth be released and then immediately transported to Austin, Dallas, and Houston.

Border Patrol will not subject the illegals to Covid testing, the Mayor of Laredo explained, because testing implies liability.

“The reason why we don’t do testing,” said Mayor Pete Saenz, a Democrat, “is that once you test, there’s an obligation.”

He went on: “If they’re positive, we’re told that you have to quarantine. We don’t have the infrastructure for that.”



But of course the biggest headlines these past couple of days revolve around Afghanistan.

“Colossal failure.” “Saigon redux.” “Humiliation in Afghanistan.” Really, it’s surreal.

The Wall Street Journal: “Taliban Take Over Kabul as Afghan President Flees Country.”

Byron York in The Washington Examiner: “The government of Afghanistan is falling fast in the face of a new Taliban offensive. The United States is urging Americans to ‘leave Afghanistan immediately.’”

It’s chaos, and a humanitarian crisis of gigantic proportions.

It is also a political crisis of gigantic proportions—not just for the Afghans, but for the United States.

Russia, Iran, China—all are sitting back to enjoy the spectacle of America’s biggest humiliation since the helicopters air-lifted U.S. personnel off the roof of our embassy in Saigon in 1975.

True, true: The Taliban won praise from CNN for wearing masks while they attacked various cities—but wouldn’t you know it, that item was from The Babylon Bee

Not the Bee: “The US Embassy in Afghanistan spent more time planning for Pride Month than it did for the withdrawal,” said Ian Miles Cheong.

Meanwhile, Biden went to Camp David.

He’ll be there at least until Wednesday. No events scheduled.

Last week, estimates were that Kabul would fall within 90 days. Yesterday, that was revised to 72 hours.

Also yesterday: Pentagon spokesman John Kirby assured the world that Kabul does not face an imminent threat from the Taliban.”

And here we are now: “Taliban insurgents entered Kabul on Sunday and President Ashraf Ghani left Afghanistan.”

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Roger Kimball
Roger Kimball
Roger Kimball is the editor and publisher of The New Criterion and publisher of Encounter Books. His most recent book is “Who Rules? Sovereignty, Nationalism, and the Fate of Freedom in the 21st Century.”